Nursing school is a demanding, intense program of study that calls on students to absorb, retain, and use a dizzying amount of theoretical and practical knowledge.
Nursing students prepare for their exams not as if their own lives depend on passing, but rather as if someone else’s life depends on it. Because it often does.
Being prepared with the correct tools for success is crucial. Ask any working nurse, and they’ll tell you. In nursing school, expect to study more than you expect. And, especially for nursing students, the right laptop is an essential study and productivity tool.
Finding the right laptop for nursing students
The best laptop for college nursing students must meet a series of qualifications: light and portable to bring everywhere, durable to undergo heavy use in multiple locations, and with sufficient battery life to last between charges.
An additional concern for nursing students looking for the right laptop is connectivity – both wireless and wired, as schools and medical facilities often have very different IT setups. Having a laptop that is ready for those situations can be a grade-saver. And, ultimately, a life-saver.
Cost is also a factor as well when looking for a good laptop. The student preparing for a career in nursing is often on a budget. As with most things, the more you are willing or able to spend, the more you’ll get.
Choose from 3 price ranges
Selecting a laptop model can be a daunting task. Faced with hundreds of options, there is an “option paralysis” that happens. When given too many things to choose from, people tend to fiddle and make no choice at all.
So we’ve assembled a manageable list of 3 options to choose from, picking one of the best laptops for nursing students at three different price ranges. From more budget-conscious models to premium ones, here are the models we’ve chosen as the best laptops for students in nursing college. Keep in mind that as price increases, so do options and processing power.
1. Lowest price model recommended
HP Chromebook 14-inch notebook
Pros: Low cost, durable, portable, key functionality
Cons: Web-only, requires internet connection, and saves to the cloud
HP Chromebooks are stripped-down laptops that are built for one function only: to connect to the internet and run web applications from a browser. They can be thought of as a go-between utility device somewhere between a tablet and a “real” laptop. As such, what they offer is a very budget-friendly price point with a lot of key functionality.
The HP Chromebook 14-db0030nr notebook
we’re recommending is best for college nursing students who have their class assignments through a web portal. This unit sits in the mid-range of HP Chromebooks. It’s durable, and (for its price) has good battery life of up to 9 hours and 15 minutes.
Web browser only
When purchasing an HP Chromebook, it is important to remember that while it has the form factor of a laptop with the keyboard, touch screen, ability to plug in speakers, headphones, and an external mouse, it is really only able to run a web browser.
With so many curricula turning to online resources such as Google Classroom to organize and upload classwork, having a laptop that runs this, and this alone, is often enough to get by as a nursing student (or a parent of a nursing student, if you’re looking to buy a laptop for them).
HP Chromebooks run Chrome OS,™ which is a web-only operating system that integrates the Google suite of free web apps into its user interface.
Perfect for running the Google suite of web applications
Chromebooks are generally thin, lightweight, and inexpensive. This price point is made possible by the pared-down nature of the task it accomplishes, being a web-client only. They connect to the internet and run web-based applications, so don’t expect to be able to load third-party software like the Microsoft Office suite.
Chromebooks do run the cloud-stored Google suite of web applications, which can open and save documents made by Microsoft Excel or Word. They can perform word processing document creation and editing through Google Docs and spreadsheets through Google Sheets.
range from just under $200 to approximately $500, with the more expensive models having larger screen size and faster graphics processors.
Processor: AMD Dual-Core A4-9120C APU
Graphics: Integrated: AMD Radeon R4 graphics card
Display: 14-inch diagonal HD SVA anti-glare WLED-backlit
Memory: 4GB DDR4-1866 SDRAM (onboard)
Storage: 32GB eMMC
2. Midrange price model recommended
The HP 15t 15-inch laptop
Pros: Solid, dependable laptop, more than capable for most tasks
Cons: Basic, standard model does not have “bells and whistles”
The HP 15t laptop
is an all-purpose laptop that covers all the bases that a nursing student needs to hit. It’s a good size, with a solid build and an attractive silver exterior.
The HP 15t comes standard with a diagonal WLED-backlit screen at 15.6 inches and boasts 8GB of RAM. Windows 10 Home 64 ships standard and, for a bit more, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro 64.
You can customize your laptop when purchasing the HP 15t through the online HP Store. So you can, for instance, add NVIDIA® GeForce processors to boost graphics performance. But this is not expressly necessary for the nursing student looking for the best laptop to suit their needs.
The quad-core Intel® Core™ i7-10510U (1.8 GHz, up to 4.9 GHz, and 8MB cache) CPU and Intel UHD Graphics GPU that comes standard on the base model should be sufficient for the college nursing student. It may not run the highest-end gaming software very well, but it will handle all manner of video playback your courses require without a hitch.
Portable and lightweight
The HP 15t laptop achieves some of its portability and lightweight profile by foregoing an internal DVD/CD drive. However, should you need one for medical imaging data or programs from your teacher distributed on CD or DVD, an external add-on drive
is always an option.
The solid-state drive (SSD) internal storage ships standard at 128GB. While you have the option to upgrade this to a 256GB SSD or even 512GB, there really is little need for a nursing student’s purposes. A storage amount of 128GB should more than handle all your storage space needs and then some.
Speedy boot up and performance
What makes SSD drives attractive, from a nursing perspective, is the fast performance and boot-up speed, along with quick program-loading that surpasses even the fastest of the older spinning-hard-drive models. Beyond that, they are lighter and less prone to error from accidental bumps or drops.
Base models come in under $500. Optional upgrades will add to the cost, but also increase power and functionality.
Graphics: UHD Graphics 620
Display: 15.6-inch diagonal HD SVA BrightView WLED-backlit
Memory: 12GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM
Storage: 128GB M.2 SSD
Dimensions:14.11 x 9.53 x 0.71 inches
Weight: 3.85 lbs
3. Premium price model recommended
The HP Spectre x360 13-inch laptop
The HP Spectre x360 13-ap0039nr laptop
is a premium, high-end model notebook that will meet every need that a nursing student might face. It is “future-proof,” as much as any laptop can be, lasting throughout school and well into the career of the working nurse.
The HP Spectre is an ultra-light 2-in-1 laptop. This means that it combines the tactile features of touch screen tablets with the more conventional capabilities of a standard laptop computer, with keyboard and pointer.
The display is a 13.3-inch diagonal touch screen that has pen support, with Corning Gorilla glass that displays Ultra High Definition (UHD) or 4K resolution images - more than 8.2 million pixels. The whole unit is super thin and transports well, measuring only 14.5 mm thick. Within that thin space resides a lot of processing power and memory.
Outstanding battery performance
What may prove to be the most valuable aspect of the HP Spectre for the nursing student is its incredible battery performance. It clocks in at a capable 13 hours of video playback at full brightness, and 20-plus hours at lower brightness.
And that’s playing video, which is the most taxing on a battery. For studying, notetaking, and general use, expect even more time before needing a recharge.
Along with the HP Spectre’s bigger price tag comes a host of security features. It has an IR biometric user-facing camera that’s Windows Hello ready as well as a fingerprint scanner. Additionally, it is built with a privacy camera kill switch.
This means that you will never need a taped-over post-it note to cover your laptop’s camera hole. All of these features make the HP Spectre quick and easy to use, but difficult for a thief to access.
Thoughtful design and construction
The HP Spectre is built for use and handling. The start button is placed into a smart shape in the upper corner of the beveled gem-cut frame. Not only does this look good, but it also makes it very hard to accidentally turn off when picking up your computer or moving it around. The thoughtful design of the HP Spectre factors these sorts of concerns into its construction.
Enough ports for your needs
There are also a great number of ports, even with its thin profile. The HP Spectre features a standard USB Type-A port, which will save the nursing student from having to use and keep a series of easily-lost dongles. There is also a Thunderbolt 3 port for external graphics, presentations, and high-speed transfers.
All of these features don’t come cheap, however. This is a laptop computing solution that’s built for professional use. With various options and upgrades, which you can choose at checkout, you can expect to spend more than our previous options.
Processor: Intel Core i7-8565U (1.8 GHz base frequency, up to 4.6 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 8MB cache, and 4 cores)
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620
Display: 13.3-inch diagonal 4K IPS micro-edge WLED-backlit touch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT (3840 x 2160)
Memory: 16GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM (onboard)
Storage: 512GB Intel SSD
Storage acceleration: 32GB Intel Optane memory for storage acceleration
Keyboard: Full-size island-style backlit keyboard
Security management: Fingerprint reader; Privacy camera kill switch
Dimensions: 12.16 x 8.58 x 0.57 inches
Weight: 2.92 lbs
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.